Sunday, 24 August 2008

My name's Helen & I'm...

...a recovering negative thinker.

And already I'm seeing the differences that it can make. Of course the natural doubter in me wonders if that's because my training has gone well and that's where the improvements have come from but now I've started this process I also wonder if it is down to trying to change my thought process'. A few people posted comments after I lay my bad side down into the public arena and it seems I'm not alone. I guess everyone has their own demons and how we deal with them is a very personal thing. It also makes us who we are. A great comment was that I actually don't need to change, I just need to change the way I think and I've hung on to this all week.

I started Monday morning in the pool as usual, ready to swim 5km with Tom, oh and my newly laid plans of positivity. I think we lasted about 3.5km before we had a huge debate and I disappeared off in to the back of my mind to find my comfy negative behaviour, firmly collected it all up from it's abandoned corner and threw it all out into the open. Well, I never said this was going to be easy! The thing is I can't expect to change overnight and as Tom and I discussed what was happening I could see what it was that I was getting wrong. Nothing to do with the swimming, more to do with how I need to see the differences between the 'active' and 'state' oriented athlete. I'm used to doing sessions irrespective of how I tired or slow I feel. I finish things (a good attribute to have especially in endurance sport.) The problem I have as a 'state oriented' athlete is that I will never change the session even when i'm too tired or aren't hitting my targets for that particular session. I'm so used to putting it down to being slower than I should be that I'm happy to weigh through the session and moan about it afterwards. Where I need to get myself to is a point where I can prescribe my session but be able to change it if I'm too tired, or the pool is too hot or my times are way off mark. But as this process is in it's infancy I'll have to bare with myself while I work it all out.

Why has my new thinking helped? Well, this week I've had two major break throughs. The first was at the Pool Triangle on Wednesday where if you remember I said in last weeks post I would love to break 35mins before it ends, my PB being 35.09. I gave my all out on that course on Wednesday, knowing I had it in me to go faster than I had before. Being passed by fellow LBT'er Jonathan MacVicker was the start and I was determined to not let him gain too much ground on me once he'd passed.

In the past when I've been overtaken my head can go down and I let my effort drop and I think about how nice it must feel to be able to go that fast. That's a typical 'state' athlete attitude. Such a passive attitude, thinking that I'd never be able to go fast and therefore accepting that I'm slow...wrong, wrong, wrong... oh the light it's there pulling me to the end of the tunnel and I can't tell you how wonderful it is, it's like being able to open your eyes for the first time. How am I ever going to get faster no matter how hard I train if every time someone passes me I turn it into a negative.

So, with Jonathan forging his way ahead of me and making comfortable ground in front I just kept digging and I worked hard to get back to him and passed him on the hill. We had a little game of cat and mouse for the rest of the ride but I never let my head drop and I never gave in. I knew Jonathan had beaten me by at least a minute (he started exactly a minute behind me) but the great thing about my ride had nothing to do with who was going to win or lose it had much more to do with how hard I could go and still use Jonathan to keep me motivated. I was very conscious about draughting, I didn't want this to be the reason for a PB. However, I'm sure I would have had the benefit of a few seconds especially when I was pushing to get past him. I ran two miles off the bike straight away and hadn't had a chance to look at my watch exactly as I passed the TT finish line but as I ran off into the first mile of the run and saw 34.15 on my watch I knew I'd not only broken 35mins but I'd smashed it. I couldn't believe my ears when I got back to discover I'd ridden 33.58!!! Wuhooo!!! The proof is in being able to step up to the plate and do something similar this week! It could have been one of those magic nights and like I say having someone to race against spurred me on but come this Wednesday I'll be out there trying to regain last weeks steps.

My next break-through came on Friday in the pool. I'd had a hard week of training, had done a weights session on Thursday and had swam every day since the race last weekend (so five days, Friday being the sixth.) Our plan was to swim 6km so we could make our weekly total up to 20km (our debate in the pool on Monday meant we only swm 3.5km instead of 5km.) The session was to swim 500 warm up, then do 2.5km technique set and finish it with 10 x 300's off 5.30. Definitely the best I've ever swam and in fact the longest but I could have kept on going. I was so relaxed and in control and could really feel the water, it was fantastic. When we got toe 300's I wondered how I was going to cope with them. Lately I've been finding it hard to get them under 5mins (which I'm easily capable of.) Each one was easy, never pushed it, never out of breath, never had to motivate myself, and wonderful to be hitting 4.50 somethings so comfortably. The best swim set I've ever done.

So, if that's what positive thinking does then it's bloody marvellous. I'm sure I'm not fixed, in fact I know I'm not fixed, it's easy to be positive when things are going well, the test is when I'm not performing how I'd like to. But I feel like I'm on the right path and I'm consciously aware that I have to keep thinking about it all until it becomes a natural process and eventually the negative thoughts get eradicted and in their place are much better and nicer positive ones.

I must go now, Tom and I are in Suffolk with his mum & Ray and it's Tom's turn to write his blog (I've been on the computer for ages.) It's so peaceful here and we're having a fantastic Bank Holiday, early nights and lovely company and food, lovely!

I found a great quote in one of the books I'm reading called 'The Psychology of Winning-Ten Qualities of a Total Winner.' It says...

'Don't downgrade the product just because you haven't used it properly and effectively.'

I'm learning...

H. x

P.s Huge and massive well dones to Lizzy Lou Lou Yelling who ran a brilliant marathon in Beijing, thwarted by her jostling competitors when she fell cracking her ribs and generally being scraped along the ground. You're my hero girl. x

And of course to Alistair Brownlee who showed the big boys that he's not scared of them (and if I ever need a lesson in positive thinking that was a huge show of it) fantastic race, truly impressed and inspired Al. x



Thanks for another great post - great to hear about your successes with positive thinking already materializing.
I meant to post this link last week - but it slipped my mind - too much being used for my positive thinking!
I found it a really useful, concise summary of the challenges we face and some pragmatical advice on how to conquer these demons:

Hope you find it of some use....


H said...

Thanks Mark, glad you like it. Gordo's blog is good isn't it, I tend to dip in and dip out out so haven't seen this post, appreciate the link. I look forward to the day when positive thinking comes naturally!!!


trilosophy said...

it's all about that focus in the moment, not was has been or might be and you proved that at pool tirangle - great job :D

lets just hope I remember to apply it myself on the 7th!